With traffic buzzing by, onlookers at a busy East Atlanta intersection stood transfixed Wednesday afternoon as state troopers approached a crashed vehicle and demanded to see the driver’s hands. Moments later, a trooper was seen comforting a small baby in a pink onesie after pulling the child from the wreckage.
What started as a Georgia State Patrol pursuit on I-20 ended in a crash and an exchange of gunfire on Glenwood Avenue that left the driver wounded. The chaotic scene was one of four that unfolded across Georgia over the course of 24 hours that saw law enforcement officers fire on citizens, according to the GBI.
First, a Covington officer was shot in the head and the suspect killed by return fire. Then, a Polk County officer critically injured a 63-year-old man who allegedly reached for a gun. And a few hours after the East Atlanta shooting, a Bibb County deputy shot a man who officials say grabbed a gun during a traffic stop.
The Atlanta pursuit kicked off around 3:30 p.m. when a trooper spotted a maroon Genesis “driving erratically” on I-20 and tried to pull it over, GBI spokesperson Nelly Miles said. The driver, identified as 36-year-old Ramadan Saleem, refused to stop and exited onto Boulevard. Saleem then ran a red light and hit a gold sedan before colliding with a light pole at Glenwood Avenue, which crushed his vehicle’s front bumper and hood, according to the GBI.
Credit: Channel 2 Action News
Credit: Channel 2 Action News
Saleem then got out of the car, allegedly pulled a gun and fired at troopers, who returned fire but were not injured, Miles said. Saleem was struck and taken to a hospital, where he was said to be stable.
Shortly after the shooting, an edited video shared by social media content aggregator ATL Scoop shows troopers use a baton to break the window of the Genesis as Saleem lays prone in the grass in front of the car. The baby is then seen being hugged and carried away by a trooper, who passed her to an emergency medic waiting nearby.
“They got a baby, man. A baby was in the car!” a man is heard saying in the background.
The child appeared to be unharmed, according to Miles.
“I was just shocked because I seen a baby was in the car,” Ju Buchanan, the bystander who filmed the video on his cellphone, told Channel 2 Action News. “What was he going to do with this baby?”
Another witness, Katelyn Crook, told Channel 2 she was at a stop sign when she heard the first crash into the gold car and then the second impact with the light pole. Her car also was hit, she said.
“The police had guns drawn,” Crook said. “I do believe that the male on the hill had a gun.”
Buchanan, who was at a nearby gas station, pulled out his phone when he saw the second crash.
“He got out of the car, ran to the back of the car he was in, tried to pull the handle. The door was locked. He reached in his waistband, and that’s when the two police shot him twice,” he said.
During the investigation, the GBI said officers found two guns near where Saleem had been. They were seen picking up the weapons in Buchanan’s video.
“Never seen anything so crazy in my life,” he said.
The officer-involved shooting was the 42nd to be investigated this year by the GBI, which is expected to turn over its independent findings to the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office for review. Counting the incident that followed in Bibb County, the agency has investigated 43 such shootings in 2023. By this time last year, there had been 53.